Madonna: ‘I’ve always felt oppressed… a large part of that is because I’m female’


Madonna covers the February issue of Harper’s Bazaar (US) and the cover shot absolutely looks like a cartoon. OMG. While it’s no secret that Madonna has had a great deal of work over the past decade, her most recent facial adjustments have left her looking… odd. Not necessarily bad, but she definitely has weird angles and I kind of think Bazaar was being really mean by coming in this close to her face, and for using this particular shot as their cover. Rude! As for the interview… I find myself enjoying Madonna’s interviews these days, which comes as a surprise to me because Madge’s print interviews used to annoy the sh-t out of me. She’s been talking a lot about politics, Donald Trump, sexism and more, and this interview is no different – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Madonna has always felt oppressed: “I’ve always felt oppressed. I know a lot of people would go, ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous for you to say that. You’re a successful white, wealthy pop star,’ but I’ve had the sh-t kicked out of me for my entire career, and a large part of that is because I’m female and also because I refuse to live a conventional life. I’ve created a very unconventional family. I have lovers who are three decades younger than me. This makes people very uncomfortable. I feel like everything I do makes people feel really uncomfortable.”

Whether she was surprised by Trump’s victory: “On election night I was sitting at a table with my agent, who is also one of my very best friends, and we were truly praying. We were praying. She was on her computer. She’s friends with someone who was working on Hillary [Clinton]‘s campaign and was getting blow-by-blow reports, and at one point she was like, “It’s not looking good.” It was just like watching a horror show. And then she was reading from the Quran, and I was reading from the Zohar. We were doing everything: lighting candles, meditating, praying, offering our lives to God forever, if only. I went to sleep, and since that night, I wake up every morning and it’s like when you break up with somebody who has really broken your heart. You wake up and for a second you’re just you, and then you go, “Oh, the person I love more than anything has just broken my heart, and I’m devastated and I’m broken and I have nothing. I’m lost.” That’s how I feel every morning. I wake up and I go, “Wait a second. Donald Trump is the president. It’s not a bad dream. It really happened.” It’s like being dumped by a lover and also being stuck in a nightmare.

Her plans for the Trump administration: “I feel like I’m already doing it to a certain degree anyway and have been doing it. But I have to get way more vocal and become a little bit less mysterious. What I find really astonishing is how quiet everybody is in my industry. I mean, nobody in the entertainment business except for maybe a handful of people ever speak out about what’s going on. Nobody takes a political stance or expresses an opinion… They want to maintain a neutral position so they can maintain their popularity. I mean, if you have an opinion and people disagree with you, you might not get a job. You might be blacklisted. You might have fewer followers on Instagram. There are any number of things that would be detrimental to your career. Everyone’s really afraid. Because it doesn’t affect their daily life yet, no one’s doing anything about it.

Why she keeps working: “Wanting to inspire people. Wanting to touch people’s hearts to get them to look at life in a different way. To be a part of evolution, because, for me, it’s either you’re part of creation or you’re part of destruction. It’s inexplicable; it’s like breathing, and I can’t imagine not doing it. That is one of the arguments I would get into with my ex-husband, who used to say to me, “But why do you have to do this again? Why do you have to make another record? Why do you have to go on tour? Why do you have to make a movie?” And I’m like, “Why do I have to explain myself?” I feel like that’s a very sexist thing to say. Does somebody ask Steven Spielberg why he’s still making movies? Hasn’t he had enough success? Hasn’t he made enough money? Hasn’t he made a name for himself? Did somebody go to Pablo Picasso and say, “Okay, you’re 80 years old. Haven’t you painted enough paintings?” No. I’m so tired of that question. I just don’t understand it. I’ll stop doing everything that I do when I don’t want to do it anymore. I’ll stop when I run out of ideas. I’ll stop when you f–king kill me. How about that?

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

At first, I was also like “STFU with your oppressed feelings, Madonna,” but I sort of understand what she’s saying. She’s not making a comparison and she’s not saying that she’s somehow more oppressed than anyone else. She’s just saying that she too has been oppressed by sexism and ageism. Which, yes, happens to every woman, even rich white women (traditionally the least oppressed sub-group of women). I also love the personal story of her argument with Guy Ritchie about why she still creates, why she still wants to contribute, and how it’s sexist to ask those questions. I guess I like Madonna now? Huh.


Photos courtesy of Luigi & Iango/Harper’s Bazaar.

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33 Responses to “Madonna: ‘I’ve always felt oppressed… a large part of that is because I’m female’”

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  1. Shambles says:

    The cat face is real. I guess, in getting to know her in this new way, the cat face is kind of sad. She felt pressured to be young and look young, and she gave in.

    • crazydaisy says:

      Right. She gave in. Nothing about that says “feminist revolutionary” to me. Just furthering the oppression.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        Every day though there are women all over this country and the world who make decisions- like for example, choosing to dress modestly, choosing to wear make-up, choosing to diet or exercise for physical appearance even though they’re not technically overweight, etc.- because they’re giving in* to things like victim-blaming, respectability politics, shut-shaming, body-shaming, or some other type of patriarchal pressures or sexist messages from society. Does that make any woman who ever does any of those things an ‘oppression furtherer’ even if they’re not out they’re actively telling other people that all women need to make the same choice? And a lot women who are feminists do at least one of those things. Even Gloria Steinem has had plastic surgery. The feminist movement really isn’t another one of those things certain groups of people have to ‘earn’ by following an arbitrary list of rules about physical appearance and the body.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        *And of course not every woman who wears make-up, dresses ‘classy’, or diets and exercises is doing it because they’re giving in to those patriarchal messages. Forgot to add that at the end.

  2. QueenEllisabet says:

    Holy Photoshop Batman

  3. anniefannie says:

    Wow! I hate to admit that I was one of the asshats that felt she should quit touring. I’ve frequently pondered what kept her going and subjecting herself to ( some ) ridicule. Her response is perfection and makes complete and total sense to me, that and recently I watched her rebel heart tour and there were many times I saw such joy emanating from her that i was deeply moved….

    • AmunetMaat says:

      I was a Madonna fan back in the day, but the past few years I asked the same questions. Why are you still going? Then I saw clips of the Rebel Heart tour and I was shocked, surprised and amazed. The music was good, she was in great physical shape, the show itself was a wonderful spectacle. It reminded me of why I was a fan.

  4. NeoCleo says:

    I can’t argue with much of anything she says here. Yes, the banner headline made me clutch my head for a moment but when I read what she had to say about her oppression I found I really couldn’t disagree with her.

  5. lucy2 says:

    She usually annoys the crap out of me these days, but I’m kind of on board with all of this.

  6. spidey says:

    Is feeling oppressed what makes her start her concerts hours late?

  7. arock says:

    her face looks a little tight

  8. Francesca Love says:

    Gotta laugh at the cover…it says 150th anniversary, not sure if they talk about Madonna or the magazine.

  9. Jess says:

    Although white women are afforded plenty of privilege, they still can be victims of sexual assault and rape just because of their gender. I remember a while back Madonna wrote a essay in Harper’s Bazaar about how she was raped at knife point in New York when she was first starting out in her career. That kind of oppression and violence unfortunately happens to women of all races, no matter their skin color

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Good point. That’s kind of a thing rich famous white women and rich famous men of color seem to have in common. One group has privilege that comes with being men, the other has privilege that comes with being white, and both have privileges that come with their wealth and fame. But money and fame don’t completely save either from racism or misogyny (and sometimes those things are used as excuses for why those people shouldn’t complain about inequality or why people should get a pass for misogyny or racism when it’s directed at people who have a lot).

  10. OrigialTessa says:

    I love her answer about why she hasn’t stopped her career. That’s a perfect answer and nothing more needs to be said.
    The rest? I wish she would have continued that thought process into the other answers. I think she’s mistaking oppression with people not liking every little thing that she does. She’s been wildly successful and generally well liked throughout the course of her career. I wish people would get over themselves sometimes. Boo hoo. Seriously.

  11. Lalu says:

    Good for her. She still has a career and I guess people still pay attention to her in some capacity. I don’t doubt she has experienced sexism, etc… As most of us have. But I just can’t hear what she says anymore because she has built an entire career based on sex and controversy. She has hacked her face and body up to chase some youthful ideal that, let’s face it, you cannot keep up with. And that’s her right… But I just cannot relate. At some point, you are just feeding the beast that you speak out against. You are perpetuating the idea that if a woman isn’t young (or young looking) and sexy, she will disappear. As a woman about to turn 40, I just cannot take her seriously.
    This crazy thing is… She was my idol when I was a little girl. I loved her so much. I feel like I outgrew her.

  12. LAK says:

    She’s been saying these things since the 80s, but it gets drowned out by all the stunt queening. When people listen to her, it always surprises them and or they asdume she’s only judt come round to these ideas.

  13. me says:

    Did she even need to show up to that photshoot? I mean that’s a cartoon of her right? The photoshop on celebs has just gotten so ridiculous. Do they think we are stupid?

  14. Lucy says:

    Yeah, she’s a white woman who’s been rich and privileged for many years now. But, she also knows her sh*t.

  15. Talie says:

    I would love to see the inside of her house…I know she has exquisite taste in art, but I’m so curious.

  16. Bohemian Martini says:

    Wowsers…The Photoshop is strong with this. They should have waited for the cheek swelling to go down.

  17. st says:

    I mostly paid attention to the comments about her ex-husband. Guy Ritchie has always come across as very macho. Sean Penn also comes across as very macho. I’ve always wondered about her taste in men and what that says about them and her.

    • perplexed says:

      Her persona is a dominant one. I assume she’s somewhat dominant in her private life. Maybe she wants someone who is more dominant than her — perhaps an alpha male type. But when you put two alphas in a relationship, conflicts arise. Well, this is my explanation for the Guy Ritchie relationship. I still can’t figure out what she likes about Sean Penn.

      She has dated around a lot though, so I don’t know if she has a type, especially since she’s now dating guys 30 years younger than her. How you would go from Sean Penn to JFK Jr. to Warren Beatty to Dennis Rodman to Guy Ritchie to whoever she’s dating now who is probably only slightly older than her daughter is a little beyond my comprehension. All of these men are so very different from each other.

  18. Madpoe says:

    Kinda like a blonde Clara Bow or Carole Lombard….I miss her Ray of Light look/days tho’.

  19. Anastasia Beaverhausen says:

    I loved her growing up. She was IT for me. Then I went through a STFU phase with her. But I really like how she came across here. It brought back up my old feelings of loving her again.

  20. Jana says:

    Kudos for your trailblazing ways, Lady. I was a 6th grader when Borderline came out, and they didn’t play it at the dance until a bunch of girls like me insisted on it!

    Don’t mess with your face, because that absolutely detracts you from your message. As Kaiser pointed out, you are starting to look like a cartoon.

    You are gorgeous, and gorgeous is not plastic. Look at Audrey Hepburn…no plastic surgery, and gorgeous til the day she died.

    Who do you want to stand for, Madonna, and ultimately, who do we as readers and subscribers to tabloids want to stand for?

    Me, for me myself and I, say plastic surgery is bullshit unless there is a bonafide reason to do so. Beauty is in the unique.

    Michelle Pfeiffer was never a “classic” beauty, but look how beautiful she is/was next to the Instamodels of today.

    Sorry, I’m done with my rant. In summary, beauty is in the unique, which plastic surgery cannot provide.

  21. Bread and Circuses says:

    I actually really like her cover shot. She looks gorgeous there, and I think they managed to make her look much less cat-facey than she actually is.